While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced law firms to come up with innovative ways to conduct business virtually, it has also helped firms reduce the time it takes to complete some tasks – and also helped them scale up in size.
“COVID was a huge accelerant,” said Zach Posner, co-founder and managing director of the Legal Tech Fund, a venture capital firm with U.S. headquarters in Seattle. “Historically, you had lawyers that primarily worked out of their office every day, and that meant that a lot of files and processes were done by using old-fashioned ways like pen and paper. When COVID hit, and everybody started working remotely, that was sort of a wake-up call, where it was time for law firms to move into the cloud.”
Innovative software has been making its way into law offices nationwide.
A new legal technology firm, Trustate, recently launched a platform that automates estate administration. According to the New York-based company, Trustate’s technology means a job that used to consume about 570 hours of administrative work now takes just a fraction of that time.
“We now have it down to less than 25 hours, and we want to continue to reduce that even further,” said Tara Faquir, co-founder and COO of Trustate. “What that means for the lawyer is they are able to then work on (more) sophisticated legal matters rather than having themselves or their team working through the several nonlegal, often nonbillable, tasks of estate administration. There are approximately 120 tasks associated with every administration regardless of the size of the estate.”
Traditionally, determining a decedent’s assets and liabilities meant family members would have to wait for bank statements and bills to arrive in the mail, Faquir said.
Now, with Trustate’s new technology, Faquir said that by “inputting a few key pieces of decedent information, and uploading supporting documentation, trusts and estates professionals can discover crucial asset and liability data about the decedent at the click of a button.”
Leah Del Percio, president, CEO and co-founder of Trustate, noted that the firm’s new estate administration platform also reduces the likelihood of mistakes.
Del Percio, a former estate attorney with DLA Piper, said the new platform already has nearly 100 law firms and wealth management firms as active users.
Trustate did not receive financing from the Legal Tech Fund, according to the fund’s website.
Posner says his firm has invested in tools that transcribe videos and automate the process of closing binders. He says the technologies are not only meant to help lawyers and law firms, but clients as well.
“We think it benefits everybody,” Posner said. “At a higher level, if technology is deployed correctly, it increases access to legal services for everybody.”
The technologies being adopted by law firms aren’t brand-new inventions but are new to the legal world, Posner said.
“I think you’re seeing the application of artificial intelligence being applied to the field of law,” he said. “I don’t think there’s necessarily new technologies being invented around this; I think it’s the use of the technology being applied to the space.”